Happy Birthday, Instagram
Two years ago today, Instagram’s first photo was posted. At the the time, it was still in beta and was called “Codename.” The image was uploaded by Instagram Founder Kevin Systrom. Three months later in October of 2010, Instagram was released to the public.
For better or for worse, Instagram has had a huge impact on iPhoneography and more importantly, the way and the frequency that we (collectively) shoot and share photos.
Read on for my thoughts about Instagram. >>>
I don’t really think Instagram is a pure “iPhoneography” app. It’s actually a lot more and I think the mobile photography aspect is just a component of it. I have always felt (and said repeatedly here on Life In LoFi) that Instagram is first and foremost a social network with photography. It was the right app at the right time and since its introduction, it, of course, has caught on like wildfire. No other photo app — the extremely popular Hipstamatic included — has created such a vibrant third-party marketplace like Instagram has.
Watching the Instagram feeds and watching Instagrammers interact with each other reaffirms my belief that Instagram is much more than sharing mobile photography. It’s very much about connecting. Instagram has definitely affected the social aspect of mobile photography for the better. It’s another tool to connect with other mobile photographers and just everyday users whose photography and/or snapshots you like.
While I see a lot of Instagram-filtered images come through our weekly showcase, generally the photo started off as a good image to begin with and most of the time the Instagram filters don’t get in the way of the photograph.
There is a lot of photography on Instagram that I’m not personally fond of (and I’m not talking about everyday snapshots). However, those photographers thought enough of their work when they finished shooting and processing that they wanted to share it. Good and bad, it’s all there in our feeds for us to see and explore. Art is subjective and beauty is in the eye of the beholder. On the other hand, there are also mobile photographers who are finishing some really great photographs using just Instagram filters.
Unlike some, I don’t think Instagram has undermined the quality and reputation of mobile photography. Instagram is its own community. There’s a lot of crossover with “mobile photographers” but I don’t think that galleries and exhibitions are thumbing their noses at mobile photography on the whole simply because people share Hefe-filtered photos of their lunch to their Instagram feed (I’m guilty of that one, by the way).
I also think for users who have just discovered mobile photography, Instagram can be a gateway app. They like what they see when they apply the app’s filters. They want more. They explore the App Store to find other great photo effects apps.
Instagram will always have millions of users who are happy with the app’s two dozen filters or so. You know what? They’re having fun. I think that’s great.
Two years ago, Instagram was the right app at the right time. While no one on the outside knows for sure what the path is for the company — Instagram is notorious for alluding to its growth plans in vague terms — one thing is for certain, millions of people every day now share moments of their lives through its smartphone-centric portals. Connections have been made, cottage industries built and we peer into each other’s lives through Sutro-colored lenses.